The way we talk about cosmetic treatments is changing, drastically. Discussions are much more frank, and the details of Botox, filler, and cosmetic surgery—which used to be the propriety of the Manhattan and Los Angeles elite—are becoming common knowledge. In his recent Time article “Nip. Tuck. Or Else.”, Joel Stein writes that “cosmetic surgery has become the new makeup”. While I think this is a bit of an overstatement, there is a kernel of truth in it.
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Little tweaks of Botox and filler, even rhinoplasty and facelift surgery, are becoming more common and much-discussed, thus losing their stigma. Celebrities and civilians alike are speaking more openly about the procedures they’ve had done. We can thank Betty Ford (facelift and blepharoplasty), Joan Rivers (lots!), Ashlee Simpson (rhinoplasty), Renée Zellweger (blepharoplasty), and most recently, Caitlyn Jenner (facial feminization and breast implants) for speaking frankly about cosmetic surgery. We can thank sites like RealSelf and Charlotte’s Book for educating cosmetic consumers and demystifying the logistics of cosmetic procedures.
Cosmetic Surgery: It’s Happening All Around You
According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS), more than 20 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures were performed worldwide in 2014, with the United States ranking number one for most cosmetic surgical and non-surgical procedures performed in 2014 (Brazil was briefly number one in 2013, but Brazilian Butt Lift be damned, we managed to regain the number one spot this past year). Cosmetic surgery technology is advancing, and procedures are becoming more minimally-invasive, with short, (or no) recovery time required. As the technology advances, procedures become more common, and the cost is coming down, making procedures affordable to more people. Surgeons are also becoming more skilled, and more subtle, making results more predictable and less scary.
Somewhere Along The Beauty Continuum
More and more in my practice, I see cosmetic procedures, particularly Botox and filler, regarded as regular maintenance rather than narcissistic indulgences. I even have many patients that come in for treatments with friends and make a day of it. I’ve seen that, with time, the idea of beauty and personal upkeep is becoming a continuum, with haircuts and shopping on one end and facelifts on the other. There are no longer any hard stops. If you have no reservations about coloring your hair with chemical dyes when it turns gray, why shouldn’t you take advantage of anti-aging treatments for your face? If you buy clothing and accessories in order to convey your personal style— to portray to others the way that you see yourself—why not take advantage of available procedures to do the same for your face and body?
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The Shame Is Gone
As Stein points out, in the 19th century, makeup was often sold under the counter because it was considered a tool of prostitution. In the 1930s, when hair dyeing was new, women got their color done in the basements of beauty parlors so no one would see them and continued to do so for decades. The shame of these beauty routines is long gone, and I hope that in the same way, we can soon say that the days of plastic surgery shaming are over.
Mentioned In This Feature:
Dr. Dara Liotta, MD, Chief Medical Director of City Aesthetics at Totum Health, Manhattan